Coupons and their use are hardly new: Consumers have been saving money with coupons since the first one was created in 1887. Since that time, clipping coupons has become an activity that's been done by generations of adults with the common goal of saving money. But over the past decade or two, people have more frequently turned from finding deals in the Sunday newspapers to the Internet. In fact, many of the coupons that are available in newspapers are also available online. Online coupons are easy to search for, find, and use, but it's still important that consumers understand the basics about couponing in the digital age.
For modern couponing, scissors aren't always required. Consumers may encounter several different types of online coupons. Often, online coupons come in the form of coupon codes, which are the most common and popular type and offered by as many as 75 percent of retailers. With coupon codes, which are also called discount or promotional codes, one only needs to copy or retype the code. When checking out, paste or type the code into the designated box on the checkout, payment, or billing page of the retailer's site. Confirm that the discount has been applied before entering payment information and completing the purchase.
Another type of online coupon that one can expect to encounter is the embedded offer. These are discounts found in links that appear in a retailer's newsletter. These may have exclusions, such as "no clearance items." Instead of copying a code, the consumer clicks the link to have the discount applied to their purchase.
Site-wide promotions are another way to save money online. These are promotional deals that are offered by the entire store or site for a limited time or on special occasions such as the Fourth of July or Black Friday. These types of deals do not require the use of a coupon code, but consumers can often use a coupon code to receive extra savings.
Some websites deal specifically with coupon codes, allowing consumers to search for the store that they desire in a centralized database. A quick Google search can also yield results. Smartphone apps are another convenient way for consumers to find coupons and other discounts, including deals from cash-back websites. Numerous mobile apps offer coupons for popular retailers and even restaurants. When consumers use these apps, they only need to show the bar code to the cashier at checkout: Once the cashier scans the bar code, the discount is applied. Apps for cash-back websites, which are also known as shopping portals, send consumers to specific retailers. These retailers pay the cash-back site a commission that it then shares with the consumer in the form of a rebate. Other ways to get coupons online include signing up for a retailer's newsletter or email list, joining their frequent buyer program, following them on social media, or simply visiting their site.
Once people understand what online coupons are and how to find them, it's time to learn how to increase their savings. To do that, there's a technique called app stacking. This is a type of couponing in which one uses cash-back apps, store rewards, credit card rewards, and online coupons together on a purchase. To start this type of extreme couponing, begin by selecting the shopping portal that offers the best rebate or cash-back amount for the purchase. Because there are so many of these cash-back websites, consumers should narrow the number that they use by establishing which portals regularly offer the best percentage or amount back. Next, the consumer should use their rewards card if applicable. If one does not have a rewards card for the particular retailer, sign up for their program, which is typically free. In some cases, the rewards card can be linked to the cash-back app for convenience. Consumers should then use any coupons that they have. If shopping online, use any online coupon that applies. If shopping in-store, save and use mobile coupons and any in-store offers. The final step is for the consumer to pay using a credit card that will earn them cash back or travel rewards. By using this method, consumers can ultimately save a significant amount compared to using one method alone or paying full price.